A group of 10 UC students from the Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity made their way down to El Salvador June 11th-19th for a week of working with concrete, concrete…and more concrete. Quickly settling into the jobs of shoveling, lifting buckets, and transferring concrete into the molds, the group put in a hard day’s work pouring walls. Every member of the team was willing to serve and help anywhere they were needed, and their ability to do some of the harder tasks was a huge factor in getting the work done.
Besides physical ability, they brought good attitudes and their constant joking around kept the worksite light-hearted and entertaining. Their work paid off Monday afternoon when the last four walls of the most recent Villa Fuller duplex were poured on their first day at the project. This duplex is the first of 10 houses that are a part of our contribution to the Legacy Build, a celebration in honor of the late Millard Fuller.
The quick progress gave them time to help out in another area by working on a Greater Blessings project in the town of Chiltiupán. Located over 1,500 feet above sea level, the ocean view from the mountains of Chiltiupán is an incredible sight, appreciated all the more after a day of hard work.
Sister Rose is an Ursuline nun and a member of the Cleveland Diocese who lives and works in Chiltiupán. She is a joyful, kind woman who shows Christ’s love to all she meets. Walking around with her and experiencing the love and respect the people of the town have for her only affirm this observation. This year she will be celebrating her 50th year as a nun, years that have brought her experiences both hard and rewarding that have made her the wonderful woman of God she is today.
We enjoy any opportunity to work with Sister Rose and she recently identified an opportunity to help out a family by pouring a new concrete floor. Upon arrival, the team discovered that the awe inspiring natural beauty of the town is sharply contrasted by its poverty. On the first day of work, we discovered the heartbreaking reality that thirteen people lived in the house, crammed into small rooms made of mud, clay and sticks.
After clearing the house of a majority of the family’s belongings, the group got to work leveling out the floors to prepare them for concrete. The location of the house posed a unique problem in how to move the concrete from the top of the long staircase down to the house itself. An impromptu shoot was formed and the group was able to work on the various tasks of maintaining the shoot, making the concrete, and moving it into the house once it reached the bottom. In two days, they managed to pour the three rooms as well as spend some time hanging out with the kids of the family.
The group also got the chance to walk around with Sister Rose getting to know the community of Chiltiupán. She arranged for the group to make tortillas with a local woman, try making bread at a local bakery, and spend some time with the local people. There was even an opportunity for a soccer match before a delicious dinner prepared by women of the town.
After the project in Chiltiupán was completed, the group was back to work in San Luis Talpa. By this point a few of the group members were a little under the weather, but the rest of the group was able to get to work removing the molds poured at the beginning of the week. On their final day on the worksite, the group was able to get a significant amount of work done, in spite of the inevitable exhaustion that had begun to set in after a long week of hard work. We appreciated the time spent working and hanging out with the group, the entertainment they provided, and the opportunity to experience the community in a renewed way through their eyes and insights. They were a great group with positive attitudes through a rough week and we look forward to working with them again in the future.